Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future

The Spanish tuna fleet will invest 3 million euros this year in its FIP developed in conjunction with WWF

The Spanish tuna fleet will invest 3 million euros this year in its FIP developed in conjunction with WWF

The Spanish tuna fleet will invest 3 million euros this year in the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), which it develops jointly with WWF. With this figure, the global investment in this FIP, which was launched in 2017, will reach the 12 million euros. The objective pursued by the fleet is to achieve the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification for all its fisheries, in 2021.

This year, the fleet grouped in OPAGAC (Producers’ Organization of Large Tuna Freezers) and WWF will continue to promote the FIP in each of its three major principles. Thus, in relation to the sustainability of the stocks, they will encourage the Regional Fisheries Organizations (RFOs), in charge of managing the tropical tuna fishery in the waters where the Spanish fleet operates, to adopt Harvest Control Rules (HCR) to ensure the sustainability of stocks in the long term. In addition, OPAGAC will support the training of the crews of its fleet, for which four new Best Practices workshops will be held in collaboration with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), at least one of them in the Basque Country and another in Galicia.

Regarding the principle of environmental impact, the tuna fleet will continue to evaluate the effects of the Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) in collaboration with the RFMOs and scientific institutions. In this regard, OPAGAC will evaluate the results of its pilot in Seychelles to retrieve lost FADs (FAD-Watch). It will also expands its participation in projects that evaluate the effectiveness of biodegradable FADs, such as the one carried out by the European Union, with the collaboration of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the AZTI technological institute, in which the fleet has invested more than 360.000 euros.

Regarding the MCS activities included in the FIP, the objectives will focus on compliance with the reporting obligations to the RFMOs, for which OPAGAC will promote its model, which includes the implementation of regional observer programs. It should be remembered that 100% of the OPAGAC fleet is equipped, with the technological collaboration of the Spanish company Satlink, with VMS or Vessel Monitoring System and with human / electronic observers as a complement to the human observers from IEO/AZTI, that record all fishing activities performed on the 47 ships of the fleet.

According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, “our FIP is the first initiative in the world that comprehensively addresses a sustainable management of tuna. The fact that we can market our fishing as a FIP product means that consumers can opt for a food made from raw materials that come from a fleet that is actively working for its sustainability. During this second year of the project, we will continue advancing with our mind set on this main objective”.

First year of the FIP: above expectations

After its first year of life, the FIP of OPAGAC and WWF has become the most comprehensive FIP for a tropical tuna fishery in the world since it covers the three target species of this fishery – skipjack (SKJ), yellowfin (YFT) and bigeye (BET) – in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

All the advances of the FIP during its first year of life have been above expectations. In fact, the project has used the MSC scorings to measure its effectiveness, with all  four ORPs (IATTC, WCPFC, IOTC and ICCAT[1]) scored above expectations at the end of year one.

This evaluation has been carried out by the independent consultant Jo Gascoigne based on the 89 improvement objectives established for the year 2017, which indicates that the progress of this FIP is above expectations in all the oceans, and for all stocks. The advances in sustainability of the OPAGAC fleet came together with progress of all tuna RFMOs in stock assessments and further progress on the evaluation of  the measures required to maintain catch or effort levels for tropical tuna stocks at the recommended levels. In addition, some RFMO members improved their compliance with management measures.

[1] Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna.



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